Muscle spasms occur when one or more muscles undergo sudden, involuntary contraction. Spasms are most common in leg muscles. [1]

Overuse of a muscle during exercise, dehydration and low levels of minerals in the body can cause muscle spasms. [2]

Muscle spasms affect people of all ages throughout the world. You may have experienced spasms whilst sleeping. They wake you up with sudden, sharp pain.

Spasms are also common during and post-exercise. They are generally not severe and will go away on their own within a few seconds to minutes. [3]

Muscle spasms are a common symptom of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. This article will be exploring the benefits of cannabidiol on both these conditions as well as, muscle recovery after exercise.

Before diving straight into the benefits of cannabidiol in reducing muscle spasms, let’s briefly explore the oil itself.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant, more commonly known as hemp and marijuana.

Whilst, the THC component of marijuana is intoxicating, CBD does not produce such effects on the body i.e. the feeling of a ‘high’. [4]

CBD has gained massive popularity in a short span of time for its robust anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Oral applications of CBD are generally preferred for illnesses related to muscle spasms. Topical CBD products are more common for dermatological conditions and arthritis.

Note: Hemp oil and CBD oil are not the same. Always check the ingredients of the product before buying.

Benefits of Cannabidiol for Muscle Spasms

The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of CBD can prove useful in reducing muscle spasms for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease patients. CBD must be used alongside THC to provide benefits in multiple sclerosis.

CBD can help reduce muscle spasms caused by high-intensity exercise routines. It may be a favorable dietary supplement for athletes.

1. Helps Reduce Spasms in Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis affected 2.3 million people worldwide in 2018. [5] This condition worsens with age and has detrimental effects on quality of life and mobility. [6]

Current treatments cannot cure the condition. They help manage the symptoms and try to slow down disease progression.[7]

Muscle spasticity is the most common symptom in multiple sclerosis patients. Other symptoms include: muscle stiffness, pain and bladder abnormality.

Approximately 90% of multiple sclerosis patients will experience spasms at some point.

Multiple sclerosis exemplifies an autoimmune disease. In such diseases, the immune system cells attack the body’s own healthy cells.

In this case, the immune system cells target the support cells of the nervous system.

They promote inflammation in the support cells. This damage signaling pathways which, are used by the brain to order muscles to carry out a specific response such as: walking, jumping and etc. [8]

The individual experiences a loss of motor control. The disrupted brain signals will cause abnormal effects that can lead to muscle spasms.

Inflammation is one of the most important reasons behind muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis.

CBD was explored as a treatment option for multiple sclerosis due to its potent anti-inflammatory effects.

In the early 1980’s, cell culture studies had already found CBD to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the nervous system. [9]

In the following years, clinical trials produced strong enough results to substantiate these claims.

Scientists concluded that CBD provided neuroprotection by slowing down immune system invasion of the nervous system and damage to signaling pathways. [10]

It was a robust immunosuppressive. [11]

CBD exerts its anti-inflammatory effects by binding to the receptors of the endocannabinoid signaling system in humans.

This system is essential to regulate homeostasis in humans i.e. house-keeping of the body.[12]

It plays a crucial role in regulating pain, inflammation, cell viability and brain well-being.

As the endocannabinoid system is important for all functions of the body, its signaling pathways extend to most muscles and the immune system cells. [13]

So, the effects of CBD can be felt by the immune system cells and they can ordered to produce fewer pro-inflammatory responses. [14]

Cannabinoids naturally found in humans are known to suppress inflammation by binding to the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. [15],[16]

Theses receptors regulate spasming activity in multiple sclerosis.

The anti-spasticity effect of cannabinoids was lost in mice which, had their CB1 receptors removed. [17]

Current treatments for spasms are often ineffective and there is no set method for the treatment of this symptom. [18]

Additionally, the drugs produce serious side effects which, patients find hard to tolerate.[19] Thus, multiple sclerosis patients wanted alternative treatments and preferred ‘natural’ ones.

The use of cannabis in multiple sclerosis started off from the self-initiative of patients. They were smoking cannabis to deal with the high-intensity symptoms of multiple sclerosis. [20]

It is extremely important to note that CBD on its own has not been found to help reduce spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

Only when CBD was co-administered alongside THC did it produce advantageous effects.[21]

There are no clinical studies investigating the effects of solely CBD oil in multiple sclerosis.[22]

You might be wondering what THC is and why it is so important.

THC is the psychoactive chemical constituent of Cannabis responsible for inducing the feeling of a ‘high’ upon smoking marijuana.

However, when THC is consumed in carefully regulated quantities, it can strongly help reduce spasming in multiple sclerosis patients.

Additionally, CBD cancels out the negative effects of THC e.g. memory loss and anxiety and further enhances the thereptutic gains. [23]

This knowledge was gained through multiple clincial trials and they all led to the production of Sativex.

The trials proved that Sativex was highly effective and safe in treating muscle spasms for multiple sclerosis patients. [24],[25]

In a particular 2008 trial, 50% of the 1615 participants showed improvements in spasticity within just 4 weeks. [26]

Sativex is an oral spray with 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD currently being sold in the market to treat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients. [27]

In comparison to just smoking cannabis, Sativex is a much safer option for reducing muscle spasms.

Sativex does not produce any intoxication, addiction or withdrawal effects, which are commonly seen with marijuana. [28]

What does this Mean? When CBD is used alongside THC, it can significantly reduce muscle spasms for multiple sclerosis patients. Sativex, a THC-CBD combination being sold in the market for muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients has been proven safe and effective.

2. May Help Lessen Muscle Spasms in Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement. The disease is more common in people over the age of 60 and worsens with time.

Muscle spasms are a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. [29],[30]

In this condition, nerves which are crucial for controlling movement and muscle activity, are damaged by inflammation and oxidative stress. [31]

Oxidative stress increases with age which is why this disease is more common in the elderly.

CBD is a stronger antioxidant than vitamin C and vitamin E. [32] The anti-oxidant properties of CBD can protect the nerves from oxidation-inducing agents.

Additionally, CBD also imparts robust anti-inflammatory effects. It does this by binding to endocannabinoid receptors which, are known to play a major role in controlling inflammation in the body. [33]

Parkinson’s disease patients are sometimes prescribed with medicinal cannabis by their doctors to help improve involuntary movement disorders. [34]

However, medicinal cannabis can cause serious side effects and users have a high chance of developing an addiction to it. [35]

As a result, Parkinson’s patients have moved from medicinal cannabis to CBD by their own personal choice.

They have experienced positive effects of CBD oil. Scientists also agree that CBD has strong potential in helping to reduce muscle spasms in Parkinson’s patients.

Many mouse studies have proved that CBD is beneficial for improving spasming activity in Parkinson’s disease. [36],[37]

Only 1 clinical trial has been done to investigate the safety and effectiveness of CBD for muscle spasms in humans with Parkinson’s disease. It was recently completed in February 2019. [38]

All 10 participants had improved motor scores and reduced muscle rigidity. They only experienced mild side effects, like: fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and dizziness.

This clinical trial stands in favor of CBD helping to reduce muscle spasms in Parkinson’s patients. Further trials will be needed to make CBD an approved treatment.

What does this Mean? The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of CBD can help protect Parkinson’s patients from muscle spasms. This is an ongoing area of research and further human studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness and safety of CBD for this illness.

3. Can Help Reduce Muscle Spasms After Exercise

Exercise helps break down fats and promote muscle building. Athletes often experience muscle spasms after high-intensity routines.

During exercise, muscles are under stress as, they are being depleted of oxygen quickly. The heart will pump blood around the body faster in order to replenish oxygen in the muscles and allow the individual to keep exercising.

Think back to a time when you did a strenuous high-intensity exercise routine. You would have felt very sore throughout the day.

This is because post-exercise a hormone known as cortisol circulates around the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone which, can induce inflammation in the muscles and prevent new muscle growth.

In 1993, a human clinical trial revealed that CBD can regulate how much cortisol circulates in the body. [39]

CBD can reduce how much cortisol acts on the muscles and thus, less pro-inflammatory effects are activated in the muscle. [40]

CBD is a promising dietary supplement for athletes as, it can help alleviate the pain they feel after exercise.

Additionally, it can help reduce the frequency of muscle spasms in athletes.

After exercise, a good night’s sleep is needed to assist full muscle building and repair. But, people who are stressed often find it hard to fall asleep.

This can lead to increased muscle spasms as, muscles that are unable to recover fully can have impaired signaling systems.

CBD has demonstrated sedative effects. It can help people fall asleep faster and improve quality of sleep. Muscles can better recover and thus, the likelihood of spasms can be reduced. [41]

What does this Mean? High-intensity workouts can cause spasms in overworked muscles. The anti-inflammatory and sedative effects of CBD can help promote muscle recovery and thus, prevent muscle spasms. Athletes may benefit from CBD.

Precautions

CBD oil is highly unlikely to cause any allergic reactions. [42]

Several research studies have found CBD oral supplements to disrupt the metabolism and effectiveness of medicines broken down by the liver.[43]

You must consult a doctor for dosage before using CBD supplements with your regular medicine.

Whilst, CBD has not been proven unsafe in pregnancy, it has not been proven safe either. In addition, the long-term effects of CBD oil on fetal development are unknown.

Pregnant women are advised to not consume CBD oil supplements. They should consult a doctor before using oil topically.

CBD supplements must be used with caution as several studies found CBD to disrupt the actions of conventional anti-pain medication. [44] Consult a physician for more information.

Companies have been found to be selling synthetic impure CBD oils, just to make good profits. Before buying a CBD oil product, always check if it has been third-party lab tested.

We advise you to only buy CBD oil products from reputed companies with good reviews.

Ensure you have full knowledge about the legal issues of CBD oil products in your country before conducting any purchases.

Athletes, especially, must pay particular attention to the THC concentration of CBD products as, THC is included in the anti-doping rules.

CBD is safe to use alongside traditional anti-spasticity drugs. [45] We always advise you to consult a doctor for dosage before consuming CBD on a regular basis.

The possible side effects of Sativex are: dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, lack of concentration and dry mouth.

It is not advisable to drive cars or operate machines when you first start taking Sativex.[46]

Dosage

Hemp plants grown at northern latitudes i.e. in Canada are likely to contain greater CBD content. [47]

CBD is non-toxic to humans even at doses up to 50 mg/kg. [48] In other words, 1500 mg/day of CBD can be well-tolerated.

The heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature will not be affected. [49]

We advise you to start with low doses (5 – 10 mg/kg) and then slowly increase it if you are experiencing positive results. [50]

The target dosage of CBD in Parkinson’s disease patients is 20 mg/kg according to the most recent clinical trial done in this area. [51]

Summary

CBD imparts robust anti-inflammatory effects which can help reduce muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients and Parkinson’s disease patients.

To provide benefits in multiple sclerosis, CBD must be used alongside THC. An oral spray combining both these chemicals is sold under the name of Sativex in the market.

Clinical trials prove that Sativex is effective and safe to be used by humans.

CBD possesses strong anti-oxidative properties which, may improve spasming activity in Parkinson’s patients.

Further clinical trials are needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of CBD for muscle spasms in Parkinson’s disease.

Athletes and people regularly performing high-intensity workouts can benefit from including CBD in their diets.

CBD can help reduce muscle spasms caused by strenuous exercises by promoting muscle recovery.

CBD’s time has just begun and with future clinical trials investigating its effects on different illnesses causing muscle spasms and movement disorders, CBD medicines can flourish in the market.

D Dutt (MSc. Biotech.)
All our posts are written by experienced writers with relevant degrees. These extremely well researched and comprehensive articles take 10s of hours to write. For each article, all the sources of information are provided as reference links for anyone to check.

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